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Markets Go Nowhere On Weak Employment Data

Equities are opening flat this morning despite volatility in other markets. U.S. bond yields are 4bps higher, crude oil $1 lower, and gold about $20 weaker….

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This article was originally published by Real Investment Advice

Equities are opening flat this morning despite volatility in other markets. U.S. bond yields are 4bps higher, crude oil $1 lower, and gold about $20 weaker. Other than some strengthening in the dollar, there is not much news to attribute to the moves.

What To Watch Today

Economy

  • No notable reports scheduled for release

Earnings

  • Coupa Software (COUP) is expected to report adjusted loss of 6 cents per share on revenue of $163.24 million 

Politics

  • President Biden is set to travel to both New Jersey and New York today to inspect damage from Hurricane Ida. Last week, he visited Louisiana and told residents there “I know you’re hurting.”
  • On Capitol Hill, the full U.S. House of Representatives and Senate only have pro forma sessions until next week but some lawmakers are set to gather in the coming days as they continue to assemble the Democrat’s proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.
  • Much farther afield, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo is in Estonia for the Tallinn Digital Summit. She delivered the keynote address overnight with a focus on the importance of digital infrastructure and connectivity in the global economy, her office says.

Courtesy of Yahoo

What Does A Melt-Up Look Like?

Currently, the stock-bond ratio is 3-standard deviations above the 3-year moving average. The angle and duration of the ascent have all the earmarks of a “melt-up.”

“A melt-up is a sustained and often unexpected improvement in the markets, driven partly by a stampede of investors who don’t want to miss out on its rise, rather than by fundamental improvements in the economy. Gains that a melt-up creates are considered to be unreliable indications of the direction the market is ultimately headed. Melt-ups often precede meltdowns.” – Investopedia

Investors Really Are “All In”

The “melt-up,” as noted, is driven by investors piling into equities under the assumption they are missing out.

Employment In Perspective

So, was the gain of 235k jobs normal? The graph below compares the monthly change in jobs as a percentage of the workforce to the median percentage over the last 70 years. As we highlight below, 235k job growth is perfectly normal.

Taxing Stock Buybacks

An idea floating around Democrat circles in Washington is taxing stock buybacks or treating them as taxable dividends. Is it likely? Probably not, given the massive lobbying efforts of corporate America. However, if they are able to pass such legislation, a key driver of stock prices may have a limited effect going forward. While we think the odds of passage are low, this bears watching closely.

Underwhelming Jobs Report

The BLS Employment Report fell short of expectations with only  235k jobs added versus estimates of 750k. Despite the relatively minimal number of jobs added, the unemployment rate fell from 5.4% to 5.2%. The participation rate is unchanged at 61.7%. Hourly earnings were higher than expected at +0.6% versus +.04% last month. While positive for employees, higher wages, if sustained, will pressure corporate earnings and can put further upward pressure on prices.

So what does this report mean for the prospects of tapering? Chair Powell has repeatedly said taper will come with significant improvement in the jobs market. While the August number was well below expectations, the unemployment rate fell by 0.2%. Further, the average gain for the last three months, including today’s data, is +750k. That is about 3x the rate of pre-pandemic levels. We should also keep in mind, there are a lot of seasonal factors in August.  In an odd year like this one, the seasonal adjustments can wreak havoc on the data. Today’s report may cause Powell to pause, but we suspect many other Fed members are concerned about inflation. The strong wage growth will only further their concern that inflation may be more than transitory.

Our guess is the market will push out expectations for tapering QE to a November-January time frame. Despite the poor data, bonds are trading poorly this morning which affirms our taper forecast.

The chart below from the BLS provides some context for the pace of jobs recovery by industry.

Will the mid-month VIX pattern hold yet again?

The graph of the VIX (volatility) below highlights a fairly reliable pattern that has been occurring mid-month for the last year. As shown, VIX tends to decline into the middle part of most months, rally sharply for a few days, and head lower again. The pattern has been especially pronounced the last three months.  One likely cause is the combination of mid-month options expiration and low volumes. The volume of trades needed to cover and roll options contracts may be enough to push volatility higher at these times.

September is thus far looking to repeat the pattern. A nice short-term trade may again occur if VIX approaches the 16.00-16.50 range later next week. 16 has been the recent floor so if you do get long the VIX and try to take advantage of the pattern, keep risk targets in place below 16.

Deteriorating Optimism

Shown below, courtesy of the Daily Shot, the Citi Economic Surprise Index continues to decline. Any reading below zero denotes economists’ forecasts are too optimistic. The recent string of weaker economic data has caught them off guard. Despite the implications of weakening economic growth, the positive correlation between the graph and stock prices has significantly deteriorated over the last year.

The post Markets Go Nowhere On Weak Employment Data appeared first on RIA.

Economics

Foreigners Sold The Most US Stocks In July Since 2007 ‘Quant Crash’, China Bought Treasuries

Foreigners Sold The Most US Stocks In July Since 2007 ‘Quant Crash’, China Bought Treasuries

In the latest TIC data – from July – Treasuries…

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Foreigners Sold The Most US Stocks In July Since 2007 'Quant Crash', China Bought Treasuries

In the latest TIC data - from July - Treasuries (and agency debt) were bid by foreigners as a wave of fear crossed the globe over the Delta variant, and stocks (and corporate bonds) were dumped en masse.

  • Foreign net buying of Treasuries at $10.2b

  • Foreign net selling of equities at $34.3b

  • Foreign net selling of corporate debt at $11b

  • Foreign net buying of agency debt at $20.7b

In fact, July saw the second biggest selling of US stocks by foreigners since the August 2007 Quant Crash (as the re-emergence of COVID - in its Delta variant - sparked fear across markets mid-month before bank buybacks rescued them)...

On the bond side, China broke a 4 month streak of selling and bought $6.35bn of US Treasuries in July...

Source: Bloomberg

Japan’s holdings climbed in July by $30.5b to a record $1.31t

Source: Bloomberg

Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland all saw notable selling of US Treasuries in July.

Finally, we note that the trend of 'rotation' from bonds to gold has continued in recent months...

Source: Bloomberg

Will that trend change or accelerate next week if The Fed hints at tapering?

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/16/2021 - 16:16
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Canada’s Inflation Rate Highest Since 2003 Chipping Away at Liberals’ Re-Election Agenda

Canadians paid significantly higher prices for goods and services in August as inflation skyrocketed by the most since 2003, creating
The post Canada’s…

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Canadians paid significantly higher prices for goods and services in August as inflation skyrocketed by the most since 2003, creating a headwind for the Liberal party just days ahead of the federal election.

The CPI jumped from 3.7% in July to an annualized 4.1% last month, marking the sharpest increase since 2003, and the fifth straight month of exceeding the Bank of Canada’s target rate of 3%. Economists polled by Bloomberg forecast an annual gain of 3.9%. Core inflation, which excludes gasoline, rose 3.2% from August 2020. On a monthly basis, the CPI rose 0.2%, against a forecast of a 0.1% gain.

Prices were up across 7 of the 8 major CPI components, with transportation and shelter contributing the most to last month’s gain. Consumers paid 32.5% more for gasoline compared to August 2020, as lower output levels from major oil-producing nations persisted throughout the summer.

The homeowners’ replacement cost index— which is related to the price of new housing, jumped 14.3% from year-ago levels, marking the fourth consecutive month of double-digit increases and the largest gain since September 1987.

Bank of Canada’s Governor Tiff Macklem expects inflation to hit 3.9% in the third quarter, but warns policy makers from reacting to what the bank refers to as “temporary” inflationary effects, such as supply chain bottlenecks and pent-up demand. Still, the latest CPI print will likely create a headache for the Liberal party, which has called a snap election in an effort to gain a majority in parliament.

Affordability has become a central campaign issue in what is appearing to be a tight election. The Conservative party— the Liberals’ main opposition, has blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s generous spending initiatives for stoking inflation across the country.

Following the CPI report, the Canadian dollar remained little changed, trading at around $1.26 against the US dollar.

Information for this briefing was found via Statistics Canada and Bloomberg. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

The post Canada’s Inflation Rate Soars by Most Since 2003, Shaking Liberals’ Re-Election Bid appeared first on the deep dive.

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Energy & Critical Metals

Fireside Chat: The Future of SPACs Is Bright Despite Early Chaos

Editor’s Note: This article is part of Joanna Makris’ Fireside Chat series, where she provides retail investors with the scoop on the hottest technologies…

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of Joanna Makris’ Fireside Chat series, where she provides retail investors with the scoop on the hottest technologies and trends from today’s business leaders, industry experts and money managers.

Source: NESPIX / Shutterstock.com

This week, my Fireside Chat aims to get the lowdown on special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). I had a lively conversation with Kris Tuttle, founder of SPACvest, a research service that provides analysis and commentary on the post-SPAC market. Tuttle is a longtime equity investor, having been both a widely recognized technology sell-side analyst and Director of Research at investment banking firms Soundview and Adams Harkness. He is also the founder of IPO Candy, a research service centered on the IPO markets.

In today’s conversation, Tuttle gives a good overview on where we are in the SPAC investing cycle right now and how he evaluates these stocks. He shares with us what’s hot (and what’s not).

Read on to learn about SPAC valuations and management financial guidance shenanigans. Discover why a certain American magazine aimed at men is cool again. And see how cannabis point-of-sale (POS), the cloud-based systems that track inventory and transactions, virtual reality, next-gen ultrasound and more are all the hottest plays in tech.

Also find out why EV charging companies are “glorified extension cords.” And uncover a “sleeper stock” that is trading at a mere $2.

With all of those teasers in mind, let’s dive in to the chat!

How do you feel about SPACs? Are they the new dotcom bubble? Or are they the future for IPOs? 

Kris Tuttle: Well, they were a bit of a dotcom bubble for a while. There were some number of months where you could only describe it as “free money.” Because they are SPACs, they split into warrants and common, and I got involved with them, just as we follow IPOs. And it was just a retail explosion, the SPAC world. You could just buy anything and make money. And things got, as you know, kind of crazy with some of the names…some of the more popular names like Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) [and] Draft Kings (NASDAQ:DKNG). These were sort of the catalyst names. 

Having said all that … that has kind of ended. And if anything, the pendulum may have swung a little bit too far in the other direction, as just about everything that’s live now is trading at or below cash trust value.

So, I think we’ve kind of come, you know, somewhat full circle. In terms of the future, I think SPACs have proven that they’re another tool in the toolbox for looking at your path as a company. Traditional IPO is still right for the Warby Parkers and these kind of companies, but for some larger, sort of industrial names, SPAC is still kind of an attractive way to potentially do it. And I think, if there’s a bit of hair on your story that may not appeal to retail, sometimes a SPAC is kind of a way to kind of get past that. So I think like M&A, SPAC IPOs are here to stay, but hopefully it’ll be a little bit more of a normal process, without the kind of crazy volatility that we had during that sort of “bubble” phase.

Critics of SPACs talk about these companies as having very loose disclosures, very liberal accounting and limited financials. What are some cautionary elements you use when you look at SPACs and, and how would you caution investors and guide them in this space? 

Yeah. That’s a polite way of saying it. I mean, we’ve worked with companies that have just outright pretended like they never gave guidance … in live Q&A. I’ve worked with CEOs who’ve said, “um, I don’t know what you’re talking about. We never gave guidance.”  And then I would follow up with a question, unfortunately, it’s on Zoom where [I’ll say] “well, I have your slide deck here from February, and this is the guidance you gave.” But of course, they won’t address those questions anymore. 

So it’s … it’s really bad. I mean there are disclosure issues and outright lying in some of these cases. 

So, there’s a few things that you want to do. I mean, first of all, you probably need to do some of your own research on these names. I tend to go towards companies that have existing brands and businesses that I’m familiar with. So, that’s a good first step. I’m also looking at the underwriter. Underwriters aren’t perfect, but a Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) or Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) is a little more likely to have done the work than, you know … I don’t want to pick on anybody … but there are others out there. 

But even with quality companies, you should not be relying on 2025 projections. That’s ridiculous. Or those that say we’re relatively cheap compared to some group of the highest multiple companies you can find in the market. So, unfortunately, as you pointed at the beginning, this really has kind of become a stock picker’s space. So doing your work, finding the right companies, management teams and, and real businesses, that’s the only way to really protect yourself. 

So, what are some of the metrics that you look at in terms of financials or evaluation? How do you differentiate a good [SPAC] from a bad one? 

Well, it definitely starts with the management team and the product. So, one name that we own a fair bit of is called Weed Maps [WM Technology (NASDAQ:MAPS)]. It’s in the cannabis space. I’m not an avid cannabis investor by any stretch, but it’s clearly a thing. I’ve known the company for a long time. It’s a technology platform, like Square (NYSE: SQ) or Toast … Point-of-Sale (POS) online. I don’t want to go too far … it’s not Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), but if you’re in the cannabis business and you’re dealing with a recreational market, you need all of this compliance and Point-of-Sale software. So they have a real product with a real competitive moat with a really good management team. And that’s the starting point. It’s not the cheapest stock in the world. If anything, it’s priced pretty well. But this is a big potential market. 

So those are the absolute starting points in terms of the names that make it into our model and real money portfolio. 

What are some other names you’re liking right now? 

There’s a company called Matterport (NASDAQ:MTTR), which, if you’re familiar with the next generation of virtual reality…Matterport actually uses the technology to capture the insides of all the buildings and all the rooms and all the mechanicals that go online and they are used to do a whole range of applications. So they’ve got some really leading-edge technology. They’ve been signing contracts with real estate agencies and governments. And it’s kind of one of these, you know, very futuristic companies, but [with] strong technology, strong management, et cetera … We’ve also owned Genius Sports (NYSE:GENI), which is a kind of sports tech, entertainment and betting brand working with most of the big leagues and minor leagues.

You might have seen Sportradar Group AG (NASDAQ:SRAD) go public today, a regular-way IPO that’s another great company in the space

A consumer brand name that people might remember is the old Playboy Group (NASDAQ:PLBY), which … you know, I didn’t love initially, because it was very expensive. They have a brand which is kind of scorned here in the U.S. [But in] other geographies, particularly Asia, it’s still viewed as cool. But they’re really trying to be an e-commerce company. And, you know, I think they have a lot of potential. So those are ones we have owned. 

There’s two new ones that we just started buying that I think are pretty interesting. One is a name you may remember. The company is called Rockley Photonics (NYSE:RKLY), The founder is Andrew Rickman, who started Bookham [Technology] back in the eighties or nineties prior to the big photonics wave. Anyway, these guys have pivoted to produce what they’re calling the “ultimate spectrometer chip.” Basically it’s a vastly more powerful sort of solution than you can get with LEDs to do all kinds of biometric measurements. It can sense everything from blood pressure to alcohol concentration, to glucose, et cetera. They’re working allegedly with the Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) of the world on the next generations of the watch and those sorts of things. It’s a high risk situation and they won’t be commercial for a while, but if it works, I suspect they [will] probably get acquired before they go full commercial …  There’s another interesting sort of tech play … a handheld ultrasound company called Butterfly Network (NYSE:BLFY).

Ultrasound has been held back by these big machines. They’ve got a really powerful hand held device that pairs with your iPhone or Android phone. And it’s opening up a huge market for that kind of price point — new applications, home care, all that kind of stuff. That’s been just sitting around pretty much since de-SPACing, maybe it’s, you know, $12-ish, $13-ish dollars a share. So, those are two pretty new names that we’ve been adding to pretty aggressively.

A lot of companies in the SPAC world are claiming to be technology disruptors in massive addressable markets … claiming hockey stick kind of revenue ramps. And many of them are in the EV space, both on the car side and the infrastructure side. I did want to ask you about Lucid Motors, which is one that’s of tremendous retail interest. And your thoughts on that [stock] as potentially the next “Tesla killer.”  

Well, Lucid (NASDAQ:LCID) has definitely got the best EV story out there. The best management team. The most attractive car. And their vehicle is actually rolling. Now, people are driving it and saying great things about it. So they deserve some credit for that. 

In terms of “the Tesla killer” — it gets a lot of clicks, I’m sure for reporters, but the company is the first to tell you that they’re not a Tesla killer at all. They are going for a tiny — like 0.5% share of the luxury car market. Yes, they’re gonna have multiple models, but, they’re not a Tesla killer whatsoever. 

The question is how well are they going to execute in terms of delivering cars at scale? I think they can sell every car they can ship. The question is, how many can they ship? The current valuation I guess, is around $31 billion, which, you know, still seems high to me given that they haven’t started the commercial ramp yet and half of their projected revenues in 2023 and into 2024 are based on the Gravity — an SUV which we haven’t even seen yet. 

So you know, it’s definitely an interesting company. I’m puzzled by why they’re launching so many models when they probably can sell everything that they can make for the next five years — if it holds up as well at scale, as people are saying from the test drives. 

But it’s ultimately a really niche product. So it’s, it’s gonna be like, you know, more like a Porsche or a Ferrari. Well, maybe that’s a little too high end … but it’s really gonna be a niche positioning in terms of where the company lives and what part of the market they’re gonna get. 

Ultimately, you know, they may get acquired by someone who has a hole in this area, but not a strong brand … like a Kia or a Hyundai (OTCMKTS:HYMTF) or somebody that’s got a robust business, and they’re gonna have their own EVs, but this would get them a different level of cache in the EV space. 

So, not terrible. I’m neither long nor short it … but I [wouldn’t] be inclined to do either [at] current prices.

And talking about kind of head scratching, puzzling valuations, the EV charging space also seems to be characterized by some pretty incredible numbers. I’m very curious about your take on Chargepoint and EVgo and what you think about that space in general. 

I mean, I’ve gone through all the interviews and shows with management, and I have never been able to get excited about the charging space. If you look at it, the low-end chargers are essentially glorified extension cords that they’re selling online for $800 for people to put in their garages. And you know, that’s already very competitive. There are 10 of them, and [soon] there’ll be 20. And they’ll [cost] $100 in a year. 

And at the high end, it’s gonna be very fragmented. I see utilities and other outfits doing most of the high-end DC charger installations. And again, the long-term business model is ultimately a commodity. So I have never, as much as I’ve looked at them, been able to get interested [enough] to do any deeper research or want to own any of them.

So, we talked about what’s overvalued. Do you have any sleeper stocks that no one knows about right now and that you’re looking at that could be interesting?  

Well, you know, there’s one that is a very traditional name that we’ve owned for a while, but I think it’s gonna be a great stock. Part of the reason is it’s kind of a “ho hummer” company called Aersale (NASDAQ:ASLE). I think it’s around $13. Anyway, they’re in the commercial aircraft maintenance and supply business, which obviously got decimated in 2020. But it’s roaring back. They’ve got like 30% EBITDA margins and climbing strong growth. They might earn $1.20 this year with the stock at $13. So it’s kind of a $20 stock in terms of how undervalued it is right now. And if some of their new products take off next year, [it] could be a $30 or $40 stock. But it’s fundamentally cheap at something like 10 times earnings.

There is a very small, what I would describe maybe as a backdoor play in the SPAC world … a company I’ve known for a little while. It’s actually close to where I live here in Kentucky called American Resources Corp. (NASDAQ:AREC). It’s got like a $2-and-some-odd share price on it, but they are building a pretty big business around supplying high-grade coal products to the steel industry. But they’ve also got some processes to get rare earths out of abandoned coal mines, which they plan to supply to the EV market. So it’s a very interesting speculative story. 

But the SPAC angle is that they launched their own SPAC. So they’re the sponsors of a hundred-million-dollar SPAC, which will do a combination at some point, and as the sponsor shareholder AREC will get those shares. And so you’ve kind of got a double value sort of situation in this name, with a good team [and] high insider ownership. So, you know, it’s definitely sort of more counter to the market. But it’s a great little story that I don’t believe anybody covers or writes about.

Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Let’s continue the discussion. Email me at jmakris@investorplace.com.

On the date of publication, Joanna Makris did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Joanna Makris is a Market Analyst at InvestorPlace.com. A strategic thinker and fundamental public equity investor, Joanna leverages over 20 years of experience on Wall Street covering various segments of the Technology, Media, and Telecom sectors at several global investment banks, including Mizuho Securities and Canaccord Genuity.

Click here to follow her Fireside Chats, where she provides retail investors with the scoop on the hottest technologies and trends from today’s business leaders, industry experts and money managers.

Click here to track her top trades, where she sheds light on market psychology and momentum, while leveraging her deep knowledge of fundamental analysis to deliver event-driven trading strategies.

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